Cars Homes & Tech

Motown Muscle: Detroit Electric

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By Jody McCutcheon

Detroit has produced two main products known around the world and while we dearly love its music, we’re here to talk about “Motown”‘s other key export: the car.

You may not know this, but Detroit Electric has been around for over a century. Perhaps surprisingly, so have electric cars. Beginning as a brand created by the Anderson Electric Car Company in 1907, Detroit Electric became the company’s actual name in 1920. The enterprise enjoyed success until shutting its doors in 1939 due to the increased takeover of internal combustion engines to the car market. But in those first three decades of its existence, Detroit Electric manufactured 13,000 highly efficient electric cars, which typically maxed out at 32kph (20mph).

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Fast-forward seventy-five years. Detroit Electric, revived in 2008, is on a mission to offer “the most exhilarating drive ever experienced.” That’s where the SP:01 enters the picture. Based on the shell of the Lotus Exige and designed to be the fastest pure-electric, two-seater sports car on the planet, the SP:01 is a made-to-order, hand-built, carbon-fibre bodied wonder on wheels that simultaneously carries on the good name of Detroit Electric and puts the puttering electric cars of a century ago to shame.

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The car runs on a compact, mid-mounted electric motor that’s powered by a lightweight, 37kWh battery pack, offering 285hp/210kW to save energy and money. With rear-wheel drive and instant torque acceleration, the car does 0–100kph in 3.9 seconds (0–60mph in 3.7 seconds), with a top speed of 249kph (155mph) and a range of 288km. All this of course with zero tailpipe emissions!

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The interior boasts a bespoke leather finish and an all-inclusive control panel called the SAMI (Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment) system. Simply tap or swipe the integrated 8.4” touchscreen to access everything from music to satellite navigation to system status for elements like battery level and range to recharge. The SAMI system even lets users remotely locate the car and operate the climate control system.

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The SP:01 is the first vehicle to utilize Detroit Electric’s bi-directional charge and discharge technology, called 360 Powerback, which essentially turns this sports car into a “mobile energy unit.” The stored battery energy will charge the car, other electric vehicles, or even an entire home. Public- and home-charging cables are included. This is a true green energy innovation.

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As Detroit Electric’s first contemporary commercial offering, the limited edition SP:01 is set to go on sale in Asia, Europe and North America later this year. Apparently it’s just the beginning, the first of a new line of production model automobiles from Detroit Electric with two new all-electric, high-performance vehicles planned for 2016.

With each new design, the future of travel doesn’t just look more and more sustainable. It looks downright sexy.



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